A Thumbs Up Book Review
Corrupt to the Core Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower
By Shiv Chopra
KOS Publishing, 2008
Review by Tim Boyd
Most of our readers are probably familiar with the conflict of interest and corruption in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Well, guess what? The same thing goes on north of the border in Canada.
In Corrupt to the Core, Dr.Shiv Chopra extensively documents the racism, corporate influence, lack of scientific objectivity, and management incompetence at Health Canada. He has achieved some degree of success in opposing politicians and health ministers—who clearly have no regard for public health—by refusing, with other like-minded colleagues, to approve harmful drugs such as bovine growth hormone for use in Canada. I greatly respect his integrity, character, courage and endurance in fighting that corruption for over three decades.
As a qualified scientist, he also confirms some interesting things that I’ve heard elsewhere, including the fact that no truly new drugs have been introduced in the last fifty years, anthrax is not a workable weapon of mass destruction, and Ciprofloxacin is probably the worst choice available to treat it.
Given all that I would love to unconditionally endorse this book, but I must put forward a few reservations. While I think the book succeeds at doing what it set out to do, it goes into much more detail than the average reader is ever going to want to know. Further, when talking about BSE (mad cow disease), he mentions nothing about the brilliant research of Mark Purdey, which was a disappointment.
After Chopra’s long and admirable struggle with Health Canada, after considerable public exposure, and after demands from high up in Canadian government to clean up the corruption, it appears that Health Canada is more corrupt than ever. The well-documented corruption in the FDA has been ongoing ever since Harvey Wiley was forced out almost one hundred years ago.
In Europe there is the corporate-driven fiasco called Codex Alimentarius. All this leads me to a conclusion that is not stated in the book and with which Dr. Chopra may or may not agree. Trying to clean up the corruption is a battle that will never end. Big industrial agriculture watchdogged by government bureaucracy does not work and never will. Local agriculture with healthy competition between small farms works. They can be kept in line by the one watchdog that can’t be corrupted: the customer.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2009.